In the city farming industry, things can get expensive fast. There are multiple inputs needed for farming, and some that are a recurring payment throughout the whole process, such as lighting or water. Not to mention that the physical space in many major cities is often quite expensive by itself. When considering funding, the first thing that comes to mind is that they can just use the money they make from farming, but the problem is the capital. In order for many city farms to get started well, they could need more than six thousand dollars, depending on how large they would like to make the farm. Once they start farming, they will be burdened with even more utility expenses, all while trying to grow their first yield. If all of this capital had to be from loans, many less people would be in the industry right now. Since city farming started gaining traction in 2010, multiple online fundraisers have collected millions of dollars to help start city farms. The companies benefiting from the fundraisers, one of which was started by Elon Musks brother, are hiring aspiring farmers currently living in the city, who want to have their own farm. I think this is a great business model because they are able to make money and keep some of what was fundraised, while still helping the industry more than any other company is doing right now. This company I speak of is called Square Roots and I’ve mentioned them before. They are leading the industry, They are changing the industry.
Traditional farming requires a number of components, from the soil, to the seeds and the water, farming can become expensive quickly. The new wave of urban farming aims to minimize the resources needed for farming, in order to produce higher yields, with less additives. Urban farming started within cities in the United States, but is now gaining traction throughout the world. Practices that were originally only being used in cities, because of space restrictions, are now being used in greenhouses that have a lot of room, because of their efficiency. Some enthusiasts have different reasons for indoor farming though. One farmer believes that nature will repair itself if it’s given a break, and indoor farming is the break that the environment needs. One Swedish company called Plantagon has the right idea for their business model. They’re attempting to intertwine Agriculture, architecture and technology, in order to keep on increasing yield, and therefore increasing their profits. Plantagon plans on growing only high- value crops, such as salads and and herbs, in order to make the most money that they can. They will also be saving on soil costs as they are using a synthetic, pumice like material to plant the seeds in. This project doesn’t just stop at the farming though. Living in the basement of a 27 story building, the heat from artificial farm lighting will be distributed into the building to help heat, and excess oxygen from the plants will be piped throughout the buildings central air conditioning into offices on all 27 floors. This farming model decreases resources used, while increasing efficiency for the building, maximizing sustainability. I feel that this use of energy is close to the best it can be for the environment. This company is using their resources to maximize profits while still improving the welfare of those around them and I think that’s one of the best things a company can do.
Urban farmers are farming for more reasons than just the food it produces, the community that it builds off of such a simple idea is astonishing. Urban farming is also being used to increase the diversity of plant species within the cities, which could potentially start a market for a superior good within the city. Like any industry, a problem that many aspiring farmers face is the issue of space. different types of urban farming call for different environments but the most suitable place to grow is either inside a closed room, or on a rooftop. Both of these settings would require very different setups and business models, the rooftop focusing heavily on water supply and soil, while the indoor farm would have to focus on a light source and utility bills as a primary concern. In an Independent article, an unconventional farming method is described, “Hydroponic systems were engineered as a highly space and resource efficient form of farming. Today, they represent a considerable source of industrially grown produce; one estimate suggests that, in 2016, the hydroponic vegetable market was worth about $6.9bn worldwide.” Hydroponic plants may be the future of urban farming. With hydroponics you need much less resources, and some crops such as lettuce are even showing higher yields than those of traditional farming. Currently the technology for hydroponics is quite expensive and not too accessible, but overtime the price is bound to fall and become more accessible to entrepreneurs.
In recent years, a new industry has been on the rise. The industry is the city farming industry, which has gained considerable traction due to the benefits of fresh, local food, compared to most produce, which is shipped across the country, taking weeks, and sometimes months to finally reach the consumer after being harvested. Companies such a Square Roots aim to empower local citizens to farm in their city environments, helping each other to help themselves. Square roots, based out of Brooklyn, NY states that their mission is “to empower entrepreneurial leaders through real food. Square roots claims that currently high calorie, low produce food is being supplied to the majority of the country, and people should want to farm locally to circulate fresh, nutrient rich, flavorful greens. On their website, they currently have a tab devoted just to entrepreneurs, where they list six different people, outlining their contribution to the cause and moreover why they are involved in the city farming. In my opinion this is essential, especially in a startup, to gain publicity. The website does not just limit it to their work experience and involvement though. It also talks about more personal topics such as each entrepreneurs favorite green, and this helps tremendously with marketing, showing a little bit of each team members personality. Furthermore their business model is setup in such a way that anyone interested can join the cause, as long as they are willing to put in the work that is demanded. This industry could be very profitable in the future, and could possible solve food shortages.
My name is Dan DeFranco and I am the curator of this blog. I am a first year student at Muhlenberg college, interested in the fields of Business and Theatrical production. I have always had entrepreneurial spirit in me, and I’m hoping to get more in touch with it this semester. Throughout this semester I have learned in depth about different aspects of entrepreneurship, preparing me to start my own business one day.